The sidewalls of tyres contain a wealth of information, but it’s all written in a foreign language. In addition to the tire’s brand and tire model, there is a lot of information provided by the manufacturer on the sidewalls of the tires they produce. Details such as the tire’s maximum inflation pressures and loads, manufacturing date, and identification of the materials used to reinforce the rubber internally are included. Beginners Guide How to read a Tire Sidewall.

Beginners Guide How to read a Tire Sidewall

Beginners Guide How to read a Tire Sidewall

VEHICLE CLASS – P215/65R15 89H

While most tyres will have a class designation in the first alphabet, there are exceptions.

P: Passenger Car
LT: Light Truck
SP: Special Trailer
T: Temporary (restricted usage for ‘Space-Saver’ spare wheels)

3 DIGIT NUMBER – P215/65R15 89H

A tire’s “nominal section width,” or its widest point in between its two sides, is measured in millimetres.

2 OR 3 DIGIT NUMBER – P215/65R15 89H

The proportion of the sidewall height to the overall tyre width. When no data is given, 82% is used as an assumption. If it’s greater than 200, that’s the overall tyre diameter in millimetres.


Describes the tire’s fabric casing and its assembly.

B: Bias belt
D: Diagonal
R: Radial

2 DIGIT NUMBER – P215/65R15 89H

The maximum diameter of a wheel that can be used with this tyre, in inches.

2 OR 3 DIGIT NUMBER – P215/65R15 89H

The load index is a numerical value assigned to each tyre size that can be used to make direct comparisons between their respective load capacities. In this scenario, the number 89 indicates that the tyres can support about 580 kg of weight. Tires with a higher load index number can support more weight.

Load Index Pounds Kilograms
71 761 345
72 783 355
73 805 365
74 827 375
75 853 387
76 882 400
77 908 412
78 937 425
79 963 437
80 992 450
81 1019 462
82 1047 475
83 1074 487
84 1102 500
85 1135 515
86 1168 530
87 1201 545
88 1235 560
89 1279 580
90 1323 600

1 OR 2 DIGIT/LETTER COMBO – P215/65R15 89H

That’s the speed it gets rated at. The code for the speed rating consists of a single letter, two letters, or a letter and a number. This number is the fastest speed at which the tyre may safely operate for 10 continuous minutes. Using the aforementioned data, we can deduce that the H rating indicates that the tyres have a maximum speed of 210 km/h and can maintain that pace for 10 minutes. The ‘Y’ in parentheses denotes tyres with a speed rating more than 300 km/h. In many cases, the load rating is contained in the brackets, like this: (86Y).

Speed Symbol Maximum speed (km/h)
N 140
P 150
Q 160
R 170
S 180
T 190
U 200
H 210
V 240
Z 240
W 270
Y 300


The manufacturer-recommended rim widths for a given tyre size; using a tyre on a rim size or type that is not allowed by the manufacturer can cause the tyre to fail, which can lead to a loss of vehicle control.



The manufacture, location, mould, manufacturing run, and release date are all listed (2 digits for week of the year plus 2 digits for year). If the last four digits of a tire’s code are 2511, for instance, that indicates production occurred in the 25th week of 2011.


  • M+S, or M&S, stands for “mud and snow” and refers to all-weather tyres that provide superior traction in slushy, light-snowy, and cold environments. Unless it bears the mountain and snowflake insignia, it is not considered a winter tyre. Studded tyres are denoted by the combination of two letters (M+SE).
  • BSW: Black Sidewall
  • WSW: White Sidewall
  • OWL: Outline White Lettering
  • VSB: Vertical Serrated Band
  • TL: Tubeless
  • TT: Tube-type, tire must be used with an inner-tube
  • C: Commercial; tires for light
  • LL: Light Load; tires for light usage and loads
  • SL: Standard Load; tire for normal usage and loads
  • XL: Extra Load; tire for vehicles of heavier standard weights
  • RF: Reinforced tires

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